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February 2009
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Is Tailoring the New Mall Alternative?

Phyllis Sullivan says that her alterations shop brings in approximately 55 customers each week, up from the 40 she averaged per week last year.  Sullivan hasn’t had time to slow down since people started heading to their own closets instead of heading to the mall.

She says “we’re turning around like a top” as she bustles from sewing machine to serger then back again.  Mending military uniforms has kept over a dozen nearby alterations businesses busy over the years, but these seamstresses and tailors are finding that the recession is bringing in customers in increasing numbers to save money by extending the life of clothes they already own.

Typically, for less than half the original cost of an item, a pair of slacks can be altered to fit an increasing (or decreasing) waistline and a zipper can be repaired.  Instead of tossing clothes that are ripped or no longer fit, they can be brought back to life much cheaper than they can be replaced.

Another new trend is price conscious shoppers who purchase gently used clothes at consignment stores, or deeply discounted clearance items, then have them altered to fit.  The result is a custom tailored outfit for much less than retail.

Sullivan says her prices generally start at around $6 and that alterations take from three days to a week, although same day service is available.  Read more about Sullivan’s business in The Beaufort Gazette or check out for information on how to start your own alterations business.

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